Councilman Charles Barron wants to school Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio in political etiquette.
Barron (D–East New York) is lambasting DeBlasio for being an “opportunist” when he announced that the city would spare PS 114 last week — declaring victory before any of the other elected officials who fought to keep the school open could reap some of the glory for themselves.
In an “open letter” to DeBlasio, Barron said the Public Advocate’s happy announcement on Feb. 28 was a “blatant act of disrespect” to his colleagues in government.
Barron claimed that he, Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) — which he spelled “Fiddler” in the letter — and Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie) all knew that the city wouldn’t close the Remsen Avenue school, but DeBlasio jumped the gun and announced the good news at a Monday night protest against its impending closure — turning an angry demonstration into a celebration.
Barron said DeBlasio, who joined the fight to save PS 114 only three weeks earlier, made the announcement to further his own political agenda.
“You were nowhere to be found when my community was struggling to avert the closure of PS 114; yet you are quick to claim credit,” Barron told DeBlasio. “While I understand that you have aspirations to become mayor, this is not the way to go about fulfilling your ambitions. For you to relay the information [that the school was saved] like some sort of knight in shining armor coming to the rescue is opportunistic.”
DeBlasio, a former Park Slope councilman, did not answer Barron’s allegations, but a spokesman said the Public Advocate knows exactly who was responsible for keeping PS 114 open.
“At the end of the day, the parents, teachers and students at PS 114 deserve the most credit for fighting for years to save their school and improve it,” Matt Wing, DeBlasio’s communications director, told us.
Still turnabout is fair play: On Wednesday, Councilman Fidler jokingly took credit for the recently passed legislation that would toughen penalties against landlords who fail to provide heat to tenants — a bill DeBlasio had sent to the Council for consideration.
Fidler said he would have made the announcement about PS 114’s survival, but he was running late from a doctor’s appointment.
“I think its pretty painstakingly clear that [DeBlasio] ruffled some feathers,” Fidler noted. “It was a little irritating for those of us fighting this on the ground. But the people who were directly involved know who did what.”